Comparing Ourselves to Others

I’ve done some pretty society-deemed-cool things in my life.

Been to some cool parties. Traveled to a few places. Met some cool folks. Seen a ton of concerts.

Hiked some mountains in California and other places.

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But contrary to what society and the world says, what I have done does not define who I am.

If it were that easy, I should be happy being a mountain-climber or a college graduate or the top of my class.

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But those things will never be enough.

If our identity

is rooted in

what we have seen

or done,

or what we have,

we are easily shaken.

We forget the things we have done and the places we have been and what is most important to us when we compare ourselves to others who society deems more successful or better-off than us.

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We’ve all done it. We’ve all compared ourselves to someone else and felt like we didn’t measure up. In middle school it was with whoever had the best clothes or coolest gadgets.

In high school it was who had the nicest car, cutest boyfriend or girlfriend, or who got the best grades.

In college it was who got invited to the best parties or went on the most interesting trips.

After college it’s who has the most success in finances, employment, or marriage.

———-> As soon as we compare ourselves to others who have more or have done more, what we had before feels like it doesn’t measure up. It’s a human and societal tendency.

I’m here to tell you it’s not fair or right to compare ourselves to people who are just as flawed as we are, and who have walked a completely different walk than us.

How could comparing ourselves to a 100% unique brother or sister do any good? !

How can we expect ourselves to be like somebody else? We are ourselves! We are who we are.

You have probably told yourself that. But you still compare yourself to others.

And that’s because you want to grow. You want to be better. You want to improve. Us humans do that. We desire to be better. To go further. To live bigger.

And that’s cool. That’s great, even. Without a goal in sight, a prize to aim for,  a direction to go in, life seems a lot less meaningful.

So lemme tellya a secret.

For the purpose of giving yourself direction, you can compare yourself to somebody.

You can compare yourself to this person for the sake of getting better.

The purpose of this comparison is to become a better person.

So here goes.

There is one and only one person

we should ever compare ourselves to

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Purple Majesty in Yorktown (not the actual name of the flower lol)

and it’s not yourself, so don’t get all excited. You and I both know you have plenty of growing to do. 😛

 

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Pretty in Pink in Yorktown (I make the names up :D)

First, I’ll tell you what this person didn’t have.

What this person (the one you should compare yourself to) didn’t have:

This person didn’t have the most money.

He didn’t have the latest hiking gear.

He didn’t have the most successful dating relationships.

He was hated by most people.

He was loved at first and then treated like a loser, by some of the people closest to him.

People were nice to him so he could do things for them and get them free stuff but he loved them anyway. Unconditionally.

 

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Now for what he did have.

What he did have:

And while you are reading, be comparing this man to yourself, and see how you measure up. It may take a while.

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A tiny flower by the James River

He had a heart of love, not darkness ❤

He was grateful for all he had, knowing each breath is a gift

He trusted that the outcome of a storm would always be a rainbow or provide more growth.

He never dwelt on what he could not change … I love the word dwelt. Isn’t it great??!

He was able to look past people’s facades and images of success and happiness, knowing what every person craved and needed in their heart, and his desire was to help people meet that need: of love.

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York River

joy

His words brought life, joy, and clarity.

He spread joy to others wherever he went.

His joy brought out the best in others.

Instead of tearing people down,

he built people up

always

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York River

He was so incredibly calming.

Whenever somebody needed a shoulder to cry on, a place to take refuge, or a listening ear, he would be that person. He didn’t complain or lash out or shrug people off.

He was always approachable.

In fact, he was magnetic. People were drawn to him wherever he went. And he had the power to fill whoever came to him with incredible peace.

❤ 🙂 ❤

He didn’t force anybody to do anything, but gently and lovingly approached all people and situations.

~

~

~

He spoke truth to his brothers and friends when they were in trouble and helped them overcome their struggles.

He never enabled anyone to do something that was harmful to themselves or others. He was never thinking about getting ahead or beating somebody at something. He was seeking love and unity.

He never held onto bitterness or resentment towards people that hurt him, but forgave them fully and immediately. Immediately.

~~~~~~~

~~~~~~~

The only person

we should ever compare ourselves to

is

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Sunset over the York River

J e s u s

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He was the perfect human.

He is the only one who has ever, can ever and will ever set the standard for how we should live our lives.

Lovingly teaching others.

Keeping short accounts of what people have done wrong to us, and forgiving others for their faults, well aware that we are so faulty ourselves.

He wasn’t taken by surprise when people fell short; he loved them anyway.

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If you don’t know Jesus, believe me when I say this:

I’ve been getting to know him for almost two years now, and the truth is, learning about Jesus and trying to become more like him is the most noteworthy thing I have ever done. It’s way cooler than any mountain I’ve climbed, trip I’ve gone on, or experience I’ve experienced.

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Jesus is the ultimate role model

& the more I find out about him, the more I realize how important it is to know him.

The more you know about Jesus,

the more you want to become like him.

Jesus is the only one worth comparing ourselves to. He is perfect. None of y’alls brothers, sisters, bosses, coworkers, friends, girlfriends or boyfriends are perfect. They are all human; AKA heavily flawed. They may go on some cool trips or have some fancy possessions or beautiful significant others, but they are trying to figure out how to navigate this journey of life the same as your are.

Raise your standard.

Raise the bar.

Compare yourself to the Risen King.

If you don’t know about Jesus, I recommend getting to know him.

Love you all!

xoV

Bird Facts for Dummies

I’d like to start off by saying I don’t know a thing about birds. I see people who know their birds and wonder how the heck they know that stuff. I never studied birds, and I frankly don’t think about birds all too often. Kinda like I don’t think about dogs or lizards or cats or gophers. They all exist, but I don’t think about them. Animals have never been my passion. But today, I learned a thing or two about red-breasted robins.

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Robins like to dance. They like to play. Their legs are built to hop, and are naturally very muscular. They hop from branch to branch and in the grass when it’s too tall to see over. They can walk or hop, and sometimes they hop just for fun. Isn’t that cool? I hop just for fun sometimes too. And I have naturally muscular legs. My mom used to call them Amazon-woman legs. I forgive you mom. You didn’t know that I was built to hop.

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The truth is, I was having a rough morning this morning and wasn’t sure how to get over it. I was frustrated with more than one person and feeling heated physically and mentally, and maybe had too much coffee to drink. After journaling, praying, and talking about it I wasn’t sure what to do.

 

Lord, I need you. I can’t do this.

 

And I looked up, away from the caked muffin tin I was scrubbing and out  the window … and I saw this guy.

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The red-breasted robin, also known as the “Turdus Migratorius” is in the Turdidae family, Turdus genus, and migratorious species.

I love how “turd” is in his name.

I know, I’m five. :~)

^_^

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Camellia in full bloom!

And I watched this robin and his best friend dance with each other. Ralph (Robin #1) and Ronnie (Robin #2) mirrored each other. Ralph took a few steps forward. Then Ronnie took  a few steps forward. Ralph hopped a few steps to the left. And Ronnie followed. Ralph stepped towards Ronnie and looked left. Ronnie stepped towards Ralph and looked right.

Ralph is the leader in this situation. Whatever Ralph does, Ronnie does after. That’s how human relationships can be. Leaders and followers.

But then Ronnie did a backwards thing. He started towards the right, and Ralph followed him. The next few moves were done by the opposite bird. I was confused. So God said

I can teach you in all things and through all things. You’ve just got to look up and listen.

Here I was, having a rough morning, focusing on what was wrong in my life and how uncomfortable I was, and God starts teaching me a lesson with two Robins in the yard.

“You know the way to the place where I am going”

John 14:4

This was the verse of the day on my bible application. And it reminded me, in conjunction with seeing the birds dance, that sometimes all we gotta do is look up.

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Because I looked up, I saw the robins.

I saw the camellias.

I went outside barefoot and took pictures.

I came inside and researched robins.

I learned that robins hop just for fun sometimes.

And I saw that sometimes robins lead, and sometimes robins follow. And just when we think we’ve got it all figured out, life surprises us.

Thank you Lord for using some of your intricate creation to teach me. Thank you for pulling me out of my funk and brightening my day with a couple of hoppin’ robins! Thank you for your unpredictability, spontaneity, creativity, and beauty.

HAVE A BLESSED DAY!

xoV

 

 

How to Be Patient

There’s no point in fighting about whether or not the traffic light is going to turn red. You can pray to God “Please Stay Green. Please Stay Green.” and it will still turn red depending on the order and timing of the light. The light turns red not because God is a cruel God or doesn’t want you to get to your appointment on time, but because that is the natural Order of things.

learning to be      c o n t e n t       with the red light

Though I have always been one of those people who races through the orange light (and maybe part of the red) when the color has already turned. I am that person who bounds across the street when there is a “don’t walk” sign because the coast seems clear. If you’re from the Northeast like me, you understand. We got places to be 😉

But I gotta ask myself honestly… When has it ever been worth it to rush through that light and risk getting into an accident or getting a ticket because of it? Life continues to show me how unpredictable it really is every single day, and how we can never know what’s around the bend.

Like this random Virginia snow storm for 10 minutes 🙂

What thing in your life are you just trying to

be through so you can make it to your destination more quickly?

An awkward conversation, perhaps

Or achieving a weight loss goal.

A job interview.

The beginning steps of a relationship.

The hard parts of a project.

or waiting for something that’s out of our control.

This last one is the hardest, and most like the traffic light; we know the light is going to turn green, orange or red, but we can’t control when (trust me, I’ve tried!). **Oh, unless you’re Whoopie Goldberg from Corrina Corrina, who can turn any light green. 🙂

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**This movie’s supah cute

 

Knowing A) we can’t control the lights and B) when we rush through we could get in trouble or get hurt indicates C) we should live carefully and abide by the rules of the road. After all, rules are put in place for our safety and everybody else’s well being. Right? Right??!

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There are exceptions to every rule.

 

Also,

the last time I checked “haste” was not a fruit of the spirit. Maybe it used to be the 10th fruit but couldn’t wait to be picked so it jumped off the tree. 😀

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If you’re unfamiliar with the fruits of the spirit, there are nine of them listed below:

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These 9 characteristics listed above are what Christians strive to become like. More loving, joyful, peaceful, patience, kind, good, faithful, gentle and able to control ourselves.

 

The Bible doesn’t encourage us to rush into things or to rush around. That would be the hasty, which is not a fruit we want to bear.

Being in a hurry is not from God

The Bible is all about the importance of paying attention to God’s timing. And he tells us to be content in whatever situation; even if that means being late to where you are going.

 

“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;

from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.

The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him —

the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,

the Spirit of counsel and of might,

the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord —

and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.”

Isaiah 11:1-3

So let’s give up rushing

Let’s give up being frustrated

Let’s grow more in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control

Let’s quit rushing around today and just do the next right thing. Pay attention to the next set of lights, and when they turn orange, slow down, STOP! and enjoy the time to think and reflect and observe what’s going on around you! Be thankful for the red light.

Be thankful for the red light

🙂

A prayer for the day:

“Lord thank you for counseling me in the midst of the morning fog. I was but a lifeless stump who couldn’t grow when your spirit came upon me and breathed life into me. And now I am growing in Your orchard among similar trees who bear all different sorts of fruit. Some shiny, some crisp, some juicy, some tangy, some sweet as honey, some with flowers, some tall, some short, some wide, some with deep roots, some that need more water than others.

Thank you Lord for counseling me to care for my tree as you would. With more love, more joy, more peace, more patience, more kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.

Thank you Lord for every gift I have. I acknowledge them as an outpouring from and of You. I am a little Christ, mirroring the Everlasting Father and Giver of Life so the world may taste His goodness on a human level. Thank you Lord for using me, an unworthy servant, made worthy by your blood.”

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Go and have a calm day.

Love,

xo V ❤

 

The Easy Thing To Do

The message of this post is that it’s easy to hate others and it’s easy to hate ourselves.

I’m not here to judge you.

I’m here to love you.

It’s not always the easy thing to do, is it?

As brothers and sisters on this planet, it is our job to keep each other accountable. Some of us have different ways of doing that. For some, judging and mocking and feeling proud when we are ahead of others is how we spur one another on in “love”. I know I have cackled maniacally when people around me stumbled, and I was a bit smug that I wasn’t the one stumbling. Though it’s funny how God has a way of reminding us that we are no more important than anyone else on this planet. Sometimes His ways are more uncomfortable than others.

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But the point is this: we are here to intercede on our brothers and sisters behalf; not criticize.

When someone is doing something wrong, or clearly needs help growing in a certain area, and we happen to have a better way of doing it, we should teach them.

“God never gives us discernment in order that we may criticize, but that we may intercede

-Oswald Chambers-

The easy thing to do is hate. To judge, sneer, mock, laugh, be proud, be self-absorbed.

That is too doggone easy.

The easy thing is to compare ourselves to others and feel as though we are “winning” if we aren’t as clumsy, gluttonous, obsessive, non-confrontational, ballistic, attention-seeking or rude as the people around us.

The easy thing to do is to cut people off. To decide it’s easier to brush off hard conversations, “deal” with things later, stop talking to someone instead of working things out. Run away and burn the bridge. The easy thing to do is to just build a new bridge.

Hating others is easy

Why does it seem easier to run, hide, and hate? Keyword “seem” here. Since really, avoiding loving people in the first place makes things 10x harder in the end. It’s a hard lesson to learn and sadly, some people never learn it! I know people in their 80s who still can’t see the forest for the trees when it comes to looking past the offensive person or situation and seeing it as a test from God; an opportunity to grow and do the right thing. An opportunity to shed light in the darkness and grow something new.

When people offend us, criticize us, mock us, laugh at us, treat us badly, hurt us, hate us, and reject us, we should simply: respond in love. At first, it’s hard.

Forget hard. It’s ridiculous. It’s extremely difficult. Seemingly pointless. You may think “The other person doesn’t deserve it. They can keep screwing up and I’m not going to help them because they deserve to suffer.”

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Which, they just might deserve that. But that isn’t for you to decide. It is not our job to criticize.

C r i t i c i z i n g   i s   e a s y .

It’s a cop-out.

It’s the automatic, child-like desire of the human heart to hurt people back when they hurt us first.

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But it isn’t what Jesus intended for us. That’s why Jesus died for our sin; so we will be saved from our meager selves and be able to shine His divine light and live according to His Holy Spirit; not our own. Not our own sad, selfish, cackling, childish, hateful, struggling selves.

It’s not easy to look past others’ faults and love them.

And not because they first love us.

But because showing others love that isn’t from ourselves is a testimony to the love that God has for us.

It’s also easy to hate ourselves.

Besides criticizing other people whether they are failing, we also criticize ourselves when people are doing better than us! When others are more successful in whatever area we are striving to be successful in, we let others successes, blessings, and happiness kill our joy.

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This is coming from Satan.

Isn’t it awful?

Shouldn’t we be able to celebrate others happiness’s and riches and not compare them to our own and wish we had it better?

Being dissatisfied with what we have is poison.

Comparing our worth to others is poison.

Judging and criticizing others is poison.

Yet it’s where our hearts naturally go. It’s the natural response.

But wait

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Do you wish to break away from these responses and rise above yourself to a love and satisfaction that can only come from a source that’s bigger than you?

Do you wish to grow from a childlike response to a mature response?

Do you wish to be satisfied in who you are no matter who you stand among?

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He makes us anew and loves us just as we are.

Comment with questions, responses, stories.

xoV

Kingdom Builder

I have recently had a revelation… I am a kingdom builder.
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Each day I mold a new stone, shiny and smooth, made of the same materials as bone.

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Each day I work to mix the wet with the dry. Each day I savor the hard work I sigh.

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I trust I’m building up and I trust it’s all for good. I trust that the masonry l’m learning is what I should.

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I’ve left foundation after another behind me so broken. Stone pieces so scattered; just temporary tokens.

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My new kingdom is a smaller but different work of art. I’ll never start over again, the bricks will never come apart. Wherever I travel I won’t start over new. The brick and the mortar of my saved soul is held with new glue.

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I’m building a kingdom, this time on a stone.

It’s different this time because I’m not building alone.

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I used to think it was easy to carry it all myself.

I’d keep the bricks in my closet and the cement on my shelf.

I kept the trowel in the bottom drawer and the level in my pocket.

I stored extra sets of wheels whose teeth were worn on every sprocket.

I was afraid to let go of the old and begin to trust the new.

I stored up materials for centuries, until I ran into You.

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“Give it all to me, dear one, and put your hand on the plow. Your kingdom work has just begun, and this time has eternal value.”

In me a sense of wisdom grew, that came from an outside source.

I trust I am working for good, without feeling regret or remorse.
Each day my fruit doesn’t always bear an obvious new rendition.

But focusing on my one true goal gifted me with ambition.

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My work is adding up, I didn’t leave any ashes behind me.

The future landscape is endless. And I have all of eternity. What I don’t finish today, I can always do tomorrow. Each moment is a gift, I give thanks and have no room for sorrow.

And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; their kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey them.’

Daniel 7:27

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Are your daily decisions contributing to building an everlasting kingdom? Or do their results go up in smoke at the end of each day?

Love xo V ❤

enjoy Today

The clock striking 12:34 is a reminder of the inevitable interconnectedness of the Universe.

The Unity.

What I mean is, you and I, we’re the same. And I need you, wherever you are.

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coffee on the screened porch

Dear Reader,

Today could be the last day to

drink your morning cup of coffee and snuggle into your favorite spot on the couch.

stroke your dog’s back and greet him with a scratch behind his ears.

step out onto the back porch and inhale the freshness of the morning breeze

crack two eggs  into a cast-iron skillet and hear the sizzling butter working its’ magic.

hear the quirky sounds of your best friend over the phone.

get lost in the pages of a good book.

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Every moment of every day is a gift. We are gifted with our eyes to see and ears to hear. We are gifted with our noses to smell and hands to hold and legs to carry. We are gifted with places to stay and food to eat and people to serve and enjoy. But we don’t always think of our days as gifts. In fact, it’s easy to take our days for granted, and we do. We curse our days and call them “bad”. We curse our gifts and compare them to others’ gifts. We crave more than what we have and aren’t satisfied when things don’t go our way.

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What if every day was really a gift? What if every day was a chance to be joyful about everything?

Even our missed alarms

broken-down cars

humid summers

technical difficulties

lost possessions

hurting bodies

broken relationships

uncomfortable feelings

tolling addictions

and unfair instances?

What if all parts of our lives were gifts to be thankful for — Good and Bad.

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summit of Mt. Monadnock at sunset, 7/16/16

I think they are.

I think we grow, like flowers in a rain storm.

I think we build up — like skyscrapers in a city.

I think we reflect nostalgically, like mirages in the water.

I think it’s all important; the successes and the failures. The losses and the gains. The peaks and the valleys. The ups and the downs. The broken and the healed. The strong and the weak.

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me & my two older brothers, 1994

I think we are all in this together — and the more we bring each other up, the more places we will go. The harder work  we endure to live in comfort, the greater the harvest we can enjoy.

But if we don’t enjoy Today, we don’t enjoy tomorrow. I believe that the way we spend our days is the way we spend our lives.

So if we spend our days grumbling, we cause others to grumble;
And if we spend our days mumbling, conversations aren’t clear.
And if we spend our days stumbling, we cause others to stumble;

But if we spend our days humbling, we’ll know that God is near.

So go now and enjoy your day. All the ups and all the downs.

Formulate a contagious smile from the remnants of your selfish frown.

 

Love you all ❤

V

 

 

To Love and BeLoved

Dear Reader,

I commence with this advice: this post is fully-packed, and is not cut out for everyone. Some concepts will soar over people’s heads. Some comments will hasten people to click the back or close-browser button and wish there was a “dislike” or even “loathe” option. Some truths will lure you in and leave you thirsty for more truth. The truth in some phrases will cause you to utterly and completely deny having any idea what I am talking about. You may close this browser half-way and decide that I am crazy and alone in what I’m saying. Others will read it over twice or three times to really try to grasp the ideas behind it. After all, these words may be perfectly clear to some people, where others may need more time to decipher.

That being said, I wish you the best read and hope you will find out a little more about love, why we should strive to be more loving, and where we can learn how to love perfectly. There is joy and peace in these words for those who are seeking these things~

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After all, deep down, everybody wants the same thing. Everybody wants to love and be loved.

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